Subway Launches Text Message Ordering In NYC

Subway has launched a pilot program called SubwayNow where New York City residents (Manhattan only at the moment, it looks like) can register to place pick-up orders via text message. According to IntoMobile, after registering with your address and providing payment info, which they keep on file, you set up a list of sandwich orders that are saved as a personal menu. When you’re ready to use the service, you text “menu” to the Subway shortcode, and Subway sends back your pre-set menu. Then you text back the menu item you want, and Subway responds with a pick-up time.

It sounds convenient once you’ve jumped through the registration hoops, although the clear downside is you’re storing credit card info on a third-party site, which is the sort of thing that always seems to come back up as a bad idea when a company’s database is breached. If you’re comfortable with that risk, however, have at it.

“Subway launches sandwich ordering via SMS in New York City” [IntoMobile]

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  1. morganlh85 says:

    I doubt it will work well. I remember when I first tried Pizza Hut online ordering, came in at the scheduled time to pick up our pizza, and they had “forgotten” to make the order, so we ended up waiting another half hour anyway. Employees at these places are too dumb for this kind of thing to work out well.

    • Lance Uppercut says:

      @morganlh85: Donato’s did the same thing to me when I ordered online. I was so annoyed that I never went back again.

      I’ve ordered online from Pizza Hut many times and never had a problem.

      • Canino says:

        @Cletus: The only time the local Papa John’s ever gets my order right is when I order online. Calling and placing an order by phone automatically means a messed up order.

  2. metsarethe... says:

    Sample text

    Hey Subs – Trky + Cheese + lil sweet peppers LOL. C ya in 10minz

    • nycaviation says:

      @metsarethe…: Land O’Lakes cheese is often abbreviated LOL. Unfortunately, Subway doesn’t have anything remotely as tasty LOL cheese.

      As for how it works…the system is run by a service called GoMobo which I’ve been using since it launched with a few NYC restaurants a few years ago, including some Subway locations. It works perfectly so long as nobody at the restaurant you’re ordering from screws up your order, which isn’t very often. The txting ability is neat, but I prefer ordering through the web interface.

  3. Plates says:

    This would be great if they actually had decent food.

    • rpm773 says:

      @Plates: I never had a use for Subway until it started its Jared ad campaign. Now if I want something lean for lunch and I’m out of my home office, I can go there.

      If I want a real sandwich…well..I go elsewhere.

    • snowlock says:

      @Plates: store-to-store basis

      elsewhere is usually far better,
      especially since there’s pretty much only national franchise sandwich shops here,
      but i’ve been to at least one subway that has pretty good sandwiches.

      • Plates says:

        @snowlock: Let me just say in New York you have to be an idiot (or a tourist) to eat at Subway. There are much better local options. Same goes for anyone in the tri-state area who orders from Domino’s or any of the other pizza chains.

        I can see if you are in East Bumblefeck, Flyover Country and it is just one of a handful of options if you are lucky, but if you are in New York there are much better and often cheaper options.

        • snowlock says:

          @Plates: as evidenced in my above comment, not everyone lives in nyc.
          just because (the majority of) people don’t live in a major city
          doesn’t mean they live in some one-horse hicktown in the middle of nowhere.

          for me, the best place to get a sandwich around here is also the only local place.
          however, i would say that subway generally isn’t near second place on the list.

  4. MaytagRepairman says:

    FYI — Anybofy who has a points card, they are going to stop allowing you to redeem your points soon. I think the date they have been telling me at my local store is February 8.

    Yeah I know it isn’t the best food in the world but I live in a town < 10,000 and we have slim pickens. Throw in that I spend 3 hours a day commuting which makes me too tired to cook every night. It sure beats teriyaki and McDonalds for fast food.

  5. Ayanami says:

    I’m pretty sure they will have some kind of webapp that parses the text and creates an order in a standard format that either prints in the kitchen, or on a kitchen display. Years ago I worked at a pizza place with online ordering and we couldn’t tell the difference between a called in take order or a web ordered one. On the screen it looked the same.

    As far as the food, when I travel I’m forced into restaurants to eat (which I normally never do) I find Subway to be decent enough food wise. 5$ foot longs leave enough per diem for a great dinner

    • Anonymous says:

      @Ayanami:

      I’m curious how this would work at a Subway though. There is no “back” at a Subway. Are the sandwich makers gonna ignore the customer in line to make a sandwich for someone who texted in an order?

    • trujunglist says:

      @Ayanami:

      I’m with ya on the work + food debacle. I hate eating alone in restaurants, so I often will just pick up a sub instead. It’s cheap, so I can charge extra hours to the client instead of spending it on marginally better food from some local grease pit. I’m always working in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night so an additional benefit is that when I’m doing measurements at 3am I can always eat the other half of the sandwich.

  6. trustsatan says:

    Paying for fast food on a line of credit is one of the very few fiscal-behavior lines in the sand I’ve drawn for myself. Really, if you know your lunch isn’t going to cost more than $7, either make sure you have the cash when you leave the house or stick a banana in your pocket (schwing.) Nothing drives me crazier than imagining the vast profits these usurers (a.k.a. Visa & Mastercard) amass from conglomerating the fraction-of-a-cent individual finance charges from people too lazy to carry $40 in cash on them and who wind up charging their morning coffee and chicken-sandwich lunch…

    • Lance Uppercut says:

      @trustsatan: A lot of people that use credit cards to get rewards, such as myself, charge everything. It’s to the point that if I can’t use my card they probably won’t get my business. Unless it is someplace like the BMV that doesn’t take credit, but I have no choice.

      However, I would never charge anything I couldn’t pay off at the end of the month and I agree that paying interest on a sub would be foolish.

    • trujunglist says:

      @trustsatan:

      I just don’t like paying ATM fees or spending my gas/free time to find a B of A ATM, even if I know where one is located. Skipping that step saves at least 5 minutes, which I have calculated to be worth approximately $73.53 (for me).

    • levenhopper says:

      @trustsatan: At my college, our vending machines take credit cards in addition to cash. I use my credit card there…it’s all for rewards.

  7. Kishi says:

    @Canino: Yeah, I have much better luck with pizza places when I type in my own order, as opposed to hoping they take it down properly.

  8. I_have_something_to_say says:

    I would love this feature at my local Subway. They have people of the required intelligence to pull this off successfully though.

  9. aguacarbonica says:

    @morganlh85: Fast food restaurant staff are not all illiterate morons, as is so often implied by Consumerist readers. I think this has a lot of potential.

    I’m a college student and I do most of my ordering on Campusfood.com. Occasionally orders are somewhat late or messed up, but for the most part, my orders are quite accurate. It’s nice to be able to order instantly, to do so with a credit card, and not to have to wait in a queue.

    I don’t know how functional this particular text messaging system will be, but I imagine it will provide a lot of convenience for certain groups of people (like college students!)

  10. ZManGT says:

    FYI- I really doubt they store your credit card information anymore. That would be against PCI compliance any major business is already compliant and the majority of smaller ones are becoming compliant.

    Most likely they store an encrypted token that allows them to charge you but your CC number is not in their system anymore.

  11. Angryrider says:

    I saw an ad for it on the subway. God, that was offensive to the Chinese.

  12. boxiom says:

    This is dumb. It only takes what, 3 minutes to get it anyways if you walk in. If your so fat and obese that you have to order in advanced so you can stick that foot long in your mouth the second that Subway doorbell goes off, then go for it.

    • wwwhitney says:

      @boxiom:

      Subway lines can get pretty crazy during lunchtime. I used to eat there a lot at my previous job and I would have definitely used this service.

    • David Rosado says:

      @boxiom:

      That’s a little harsh. I’ve used the service twice already with success both times. I’m thin (probably too thin), but went this route because Subway’s lines are indeed pretty brutal during lunch hours.

  13. micahd says:

    I used to work at a Papa Johns and was down right amazed at how well their system worked. When you call in a person puts the order in and when it’s submitted it’s sent over to the kitchen monitors. But web orders just show up on the kitchen monitors. So there’s less chance for error during order entry and it just gets in line with the other orders.

    Also each store has a server that they backup to tape every night.

  14. springboks says:

    Subway has really responded well to the economy and technology. $5 footlongs are a deal (and pretty healthy, although that’s debatable if you order bacon and mayo). This texting thing is smart and is clearly inviting the thumb typing audience to come get a sub.

    McDonalds and the rest of the gang have kept things very much the same.

  15. BillyDee_CT says:

    Now if Subway stopped overcharging for their other sandwiches it may actually be worth something. How the hell do they charge extra for bacon on their “Steak & Bacon” flatbread sandwich when bacon is a highlighted component of the sandwich? I’m not talking about extra bacon, just the portion that should come with the sandwich. I wrote to Subway corporate via their web site and got bupkis for a reply.